From an ink pen to a digital signature

Published Date: 8 July 2019

For centuries a signature could reveal a great deal about a person. During adolescence some spent hours on practicing the italic style signature – writing the perfect curve that would define adulthood and class. Some wished for their name to stand strong and clear, whereas others preferred writing it in an unreadable manner and thereby create something close to being a symbol or a stamp.

Fast forward to the current continually advancing digital age, where our digital devices are always by our side, in our pocket or in front of us. We use digital devices at home, at work, for dating, for shopping, for everything. Adding to this, we value safe, smart and fast solutions in our lives. Whether it is for purchasing clothes, signing our tax declarations or buying a new home.


The move from pen to digital

In this digital age, the digital signature is an essentiality in our workplace. Instead of endless piles of papers to be stamped and signed, we rapidly adapt to the digital age and increasingly integrate digital solutions to our workflow. Whether it is planning, purchasing or advertising, digital solutions are now all around us and at the front of our desktop.


What is a digital signature?

The digital signature, also known as an advanced or e- signature, is the electronic acceptance of an agreement. It is the digital era’s solution to the old handwritten, ink dropping, stamped, process of signing a document. 


So, are digital signatures legally binding?

A digital signature is as legally binding and valid as a traditional signature placed with ink on paper, as it is the most advanced and secure type of electronic signature. Much of this is credited to the eIDAS regulation Art.25, which contains a decisive ban on discrimination against agreements concluded digitally.


How are we sure that the digital signature is legal and safe?

In order for a signature, digital or physical, to be classified as compliant and valid there are three basic requirements that should be met:

  1. Signer authentication: At Penneo a digital signature requires a certificate-based digital ID (NemID, bankID), a PIN plus a unique digital certificate to authenticate signer identity and demonstrate proof of signing. This allows the signee to be uniquely identified and linked to the signature.
  2. Content integrity: Penneo is designed to keep documents secure and prevent tampering of the document during and after the signing process with a watermark ID on the document and a secured and recorded audit trail. Learn more about how we do that here.
  3. Non-repudiation: Penneo ensures that a party to a contract or a communication cannot deny the authenticity of their signature on a document or sending the communication in the first place. In this context, non-repudiation refers to the ability to ensure that a party to a contract or a communication must accept the authenticity of their signature on a document or the sending of a message here.


In conclusion, we use digital devices for most activities and we value safety, speed and finesse. We embrace the direction we are going in and all the digital perks that follow because it allows us to reach our goals of value. Our parents or grandparents advised us not to just write our name in a straight lined italic handwriting but rather make it scribbled and abstract to the point of unknown, and perhaps the aim of this was to not only personalize the signature but also to stay anonymous at some level, which is something we very well could be thriving for more and more in these transparent times and that is why compliancy should be a top priority for clients as well as companies.